Rebel isn't a rapper or some band made up of juvenile delinquents; rather, it's an exceptionally lively period-instrument ensemble based out of Trinity Church in New York City and named after composer Jean-Féry Rebel. Biber: Harmonia artificioso-ariosa is its ninth recording; the group has been around since at least 1991, when it took first prize at what is now called the van Wassenaer Competition in Utrecht. In preparing this recording of Heinrich von Biber's Harmonia artificioso-ariosa, of which this is the first volume of two, Rebel decided to consult the original 1696 edition of the work rather than the standard modern edition of 1956. Rebel discovered a number of errors in the modern print that have presumably been carried over into previous recordings of this cycle, and this recorded version for Bridge benefits from a strong ring of authenticity in addition to the fine playing from the ensemble. Rebel certainly does not have any problems adapting to Biber's bizarre scordatura tunings and is fleet and light in the execution of these Baroque dance suites, which do seem to have been written as kind of showy chamber music entertainment rather than specifically for dancing. Rebel is equally effective in pieces where the rhythmic profile dominates and is more intellectually driven in virtuosic kinds of movements, such as the "Ciacona (Canon in unisono)" from the A major Partia. The recording, made at St. John's Lutheran Church in Stamford, CT, is just the slightest bit distant, but provides a nice blend of instruments and everything is clearly audible, although it's sometimes hard to tell the two violins, played expertly by ensemble directors Jörg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, apart. Nonetheless, this is a very good middle-of-the-road rendering of the Harmonia artificioso-ariosa, and Biber's fans will want it, as well as the second volume.
AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis
|Partia, for 2 violins & continuo No. 1 in D minor (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 1), C. 62|
|Partia, for 2 violins & continuo No. 2 in B minor (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 2), C. 63|
|Partia, for 2 violins & continuo No. 3 in A major (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 3), C. 64|
|Partia, for 2 violins, viola da braccio & continuo No. 4 in E flat major (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 4), C. 65|
|Partia, for 2 violins & continuo No. 5 in G minor (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 5), C. 66|
|Partita for 2 violins & basso continuo No. 6 in D major (Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa No. 6), C. 67|